At this stage in life, and also to endure pandemic restrictions, we’re advised to take up new pastimes: to improve our brain as well as our general well-being. Last year I joined the jigsaw puzzle craze, but to little avail. Five hundred pieces lie scrambled on a portable puzzle board. I also renewed my interest in chess, watching free lessons on youtube (plus “The Queen’s Gambit”), but don’t play often enough against my son and grandsons to reduce my blunders. Is online solitaire a hobby? (Apparently it triggers a soft mental activity that works to relax the brain and dilute stress without shutting it off completely.) Minutes before purchasing an adult colouring book, I realized it would remain black and white in my hands so bought Where the Crawdads Sing to read instead.
Photography, however, has hooked me. Although I initially engaged in this art form using a mirrorless digital camera with a few specialty lenses, these days I opt for the convenience of my smartphone. Cell phones with built-in cameras became publicly available in Canada and the U.S. in 2002; since then the ubiquitous device, which can take high quality images, turns almost everyone into a photographer. Sales of digital cameras have plummeted.
Snapping photos is fun and creative. This pastime also boosts our mental and physical health.
- Exercise: Since nature and our surroundings offer myriad subjects, photography motivates us to go outside. And there are a dozen pluses to going on walks of at least 30 minutes every day, as an article in Prevention magazine reminds us. We can also practice knee bends by shooting our images from different angles.
- Mindfulness: Photography helps us to be “in the moment” as we focus our minds — and lens — on framing objects and scenes.
- Brain health: Challenging ourselves to find distinctive perspectives of familiar scenes stimulates our brain. Remember: “use it or lose it.”
- Beauty: Photography inspires us to seek and capture the beauty that exists in everything, from the banal to the awesome.
- Communication: We can convey messages with our photos without uttering or writing any words. And easily record special moments for future review.
- Community: What to do with the proliferation of photos? Join Instagram and share them with old and new “friends” in this online community, as well as build a gallery of our own choice images. Admiring the artistry of various IG feeds enriches my days.
In taking up photography, we mustn’t evaluate our level of creativity. The act of doing matters most. •
P.S. Please add your satisfying pandemic pastimes in the comments below.